Worship services of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) include weekly services, held in meetinghouses on Sundays (or another day when local custom or law prohibits Sunday worship, such as in Israel), in geographically based religious units (called wards or branches). Once per month, this weekly service is a fast and testimony meeting. Twice each year, the LDS Church holds a worldwide general conference. LDS Church adherents also worship in temples, which are open only to members in good standing.
In the LDS Church, congregations for Sunday services are grouped geographically, with larger (roughly 150 to 400 people) groups known as wards, and smaller (2 to about 150 people) ones, known as branches. The congregations gather in meetinghouses, also referred to as "chapels" or "stake centers," on property that is typically owned by the church. In some cases, rental property may be used as a meetinghouse. Although the building may sometimes be referred to as a "chapel," the room that is used as a chapel for religious services is actually only one component of the standard meetinghouse.
All people, regardless of belief or standing in the church, are permitted to attend weekly meetings. The sacrament (similar to communion, the Lord's supper, or the eucharist in other churches) is offered weekly. Latter-day Saints also come together in meetinghouses for various activities throughout the week (except Mondays, which are reserved for Family Home Evening). The church maintains a meetinghouse locator to help members and visitors find meetinghouses and meeting times in their area.
While there is no formal dress requirement for Sunday meetings, women usually attend wearing skirts or dresses, and men wear suits or dress shirts and ties.
Through the end of 2018, weekly services consisted of a three-hour block of time divided into three segments.
|70 min||Sacrament meeting|
|40 min||Sunday School||Youth Sunday School||Primary|
|Melchizedek Priesthood||Aaronic Priesthood||Young |
In some congregations, the "block" schedule of meetings may have been held in reverse order of the table shown, wherein sacrament meetings would be held at the end of that block, after the other two meetings.
On October 6, 2018, the church announced that beginning in January 2019, weekly services would consist of a two-hour block divided into two segments as follows (with the Sunday of each month on which the indicated meetings are to occur identified):
|60 min||Sacrament meeting|
|50 min||Sunday School (1st and 3rd Sundays)
Under direction of the bishop (5th Sunday)
|Youth Sunday School (1st and 3rd Sundays)
Under direction of the bishop (5th Sunday)
Adjustments due to COVID-19
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, church leaders announced in mid-March 2020 that all large public gatherings, including weekly worship services, would be discontinued until further notice. Weekly services have since resumed in many locations, as directed by local area presidencies.
Elements of weekly worship services
The main Sunday service is sacrament meeting which is attended by the combined congregation. Following an adjustment in January 2019, sacrament meeting is now held for 60 minutes. The foremost purpose of sacrament meeting is the blessing and passing of the sacrament, consecrated bread and water in remembrance of the body and blood of Christ, to the congregation. After the sacrament, the service usually consists of two or three lay sermons, called "talks," prepared and delivered by members of the congregation. Hymns, accompanied by piano or organ, are sung throughout the service as a form of worship through music. Once a month, usually on the first Sunday, instead of prepared talks, members are invited to bear their testimonies about Jesus Christ and gospel principles. The testimonies are generally impromptu statements of personal faith. This meeting is called fast and testimony meeting.
Sunday School classes are separated into adult and youth courses. Historically, adult Sunday School courses have been grouped by topic, with new members and visitors having the option to attend an introductory class. In congregations with a diverse membership, classes might be organized in which the approved courses are taught in a variety of languages. When necessary, wireless headphones are made available, so the discussion can be translated into other languages.
The Sunday School meets every other week and consists of a teacher presenting gospel messages drawn from the scriptures, with participation from class members. Prior to the January 2019 changes to the Sunday meeting schedule, Sunday School was held weekly. In 2019, when the church moved to a two-hour block, Sunday School began being held every other week. Also, the two main adult classes were no longer to be called Gospel Doctrine and Gospel Principles, with encouragement for a combined adult class instead.
For congregations where space won't allow a single class, multiple adult classes can be held. Local Sunday School presidents and bishops can create these classes for specific groups, such as young single adults, members who don't speak the ward's primary language, new members, returning members, and those learning about the church, or other groups.
Historically, other optional adult Sunday School courses were held at various times, including during the second hour of the Sunday meeting block, depending on the specific needs of each congregation. The most common of these was an optional adult course called Gospel Principles, designed for new members and those of other faiths who are interested in learning more about the church (often referred to as "investigators"). Other courses included topics such as Marriage and Family Relations and Temple Preparation. Since January 2019, the optional Sunday School classes are no longer taught during the meeting block. Each ward bishop will determine how other optional courses, including those before or after baptism, will be taught outside of the two-hour block.
Youth Sunday School courses are for those who aged 12 to 18 and may be divided or combined by ages, depending on local needs, such as the number of youth. In 2013, the church instituted a new youth curriculum with uniform doctrinal themes, which allows leaders and teachers to adapt classes to the needs of youth.
Beginning in January 2019, a new "home-centered and church-supported" program of gospel instruction was adopted using the same manual, Come, Follow Me, for adult, youth, and primary instruction both at church and in the home. With this new curriculum, lessons and messages from the second hour of church will correspond with the lessons to be taught at home throughout the week.
Men and boys 12 and older attend priesthood classes. Although all men and boys meet together briefly at the beginning of the session for a prayer, hymn, and announcements, they then separate into classes. The men attend Elders Quorum. Boys are divided into priesthood quorums: Deacons (ages 12–13), Teachers (ages 14–15), and Priests (ages 16–18) Quorums. Classes may be combined if class sizes are small.
Relief Society and Young Women meetings
Adult women attend Relief Society, and girls who are 12 to 17 attend Young Women. Occasionally, the Relief Society and Young Women meet together briefly at the beginning of the session for a prayer, hymn, and announcements and then separate into classes, as the men and boys do. The Young Women are divided into multiple classes, but typically ages 12–13, ages 14–15, and ages 16–17 classes.
Children younger than 12 attend Primary. Through the end of 2018, Primary consisted of two time blocks of 50 and 60 minutes. Beginning in January 2019, Primary now consists of a single 50-minute block. Primary is generally divided into two groups: Senior Primary (ages 8–11) and Junior Primary (ages 4–7); young children from 18 months to 3 years of age may attend a nursery class. Primary classes generally consist of children born in the same calendar year. Usually, half of the Primary, such as Senior Primary, meet in separate classes, while the other half, Junior Primary, meet together in sharing and singing time, and at the end of each block, the two are reversed. Since January 2019, the 50-minute block for Primary includes singing time and instruction, with sharing time discontinued. Individual congregations will have the option of having the entire Primary meet together for the instruction and singing time.
Teacher council meeting
In 2016, the church announced that each ward should hold a teacher council meeting once a month during the three-hour schedule of Sunday meetings. Those attending teacher council meetings include everyone who teaches a quorum or class in the ward, along with at least one of the priesthood or auxiliary leaders responsible for those teachers. Wards were to hold teacher council meetings for Relief Society, Young Women and priesthood teachers during the second hour of the three-hour block and for the Sunday School teachers during the final hour of the three-hour block. Primary teachers would attend the teacher council meeting being held during the hour of the block that corresponds to when their class participates in sharing time. If necessary, participants could be divided into groups according to the needs of those they teach.
Since January 2019, each ward will hold a teacher council meeting quarterly during the 50-minute class time. A ward will typically hold teacher council meeting for Relief Society, Young Women and priesthood teachers on a first or a third Sunday and for Sunday School teachers on a second or a fourth Sunday. Primary teachers may attend teacher council meeting on any Sunday as determined by the ward Primary presidency.
Fast and testimony meeting
The fast and testimony meeting is a monthly sacrament meeting held on a stake's Fast Sunday, which is typically the first Sunday of each month. Those members who feel prompted go to the podium and share (or "bear") their testimony with the other members of their congregation. Members may choose to fast on this weekend for two meals and donate the money they would have spent for those meals to the church as fast offerings, which are used to operate the church's welfare program. As with all other donations, these are privately paid through donation slips or on the Internet. A ward or a family can fast in unity for a purpose, such as for an ill member or other personal or family needs.
The church definition of a testimony is "a spiritual witness given by the Holy Ghost. The foundation of a testimony is the knowledge that Heavenly Father lives and loves His children; that Jesus Christ lives, that He is the Son of God, and that He carried out the infinite Atonement; that Joseph Smith is the prophet of God who was called to restore the gospel; that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Savior's true Church on the earth; and that the Church is led by a living prophet today. With this foundation, a testimony grows to include all principles of the gospel." Individuals bearing testimony are directed by the feelings of their heart or by the Holy Ghost as to what to share. Members are expected to be brief so that others may have the opportunity.
Twice a year, the LDS Church holds general conference, where the church's president and other leaders speak. The talks, given in several sessions over several days, are carried worldwide by radio, television, satellite, and Internet broadcasts. Beginning in October 2018, the sessions consist of four general sessions, a women's session (in October each year) and a priesthood session (in April each year). The talks are translated into over 80 languages and are later made available on ChurchofJesusChrist.org and in printed church publications such as the Ensign and Liahona.
Conference talks address doctrinal topics drawn from scriptures and personal experiences, messages of faith and hope, church history, and information on the church, as it expands throughout the world.
Throughout the 20th century, conference was held in the Salt Lake Tabernacle. With a maximum capacity of about 8,000 per session, the Tabernacle consistently filled to capacity, leaving thousands of attendees listening on loudspeakers outside or via broadcast in adjacent buildings. In 2000, the LDS Church dedicated a new 21,000-seat Conference Center, which became the home of general conference.
Conference satellite broadcasts may be watched live in thousands of chapels worldwide. The public is invited to attend or watch general conference either through the broadcasts, on the Internet, in the Conference Center, or other areas at Temple Square. The conference is also broadcast nationally and internationally on many satellite or cable providers through BYUtv and on local networks in some areas.
Worship in temples
In the LDS Church, a temple is a building dedicated to be a "House of the Lord," and they are considered by church members to be the most sacred structures on earth. Upon completion, temples are usually open to the public for a short period of time during an "open house." During the open house, the church conducts tours of the temple with missionaries and members from the local area serving as tour guides, and all rooms of the temple are open to the public. After a temple is dedicated, only members in good standing are permitted entrance and so they are not meetinghouses or houses of public worship. Most LDS temples are identified by a gold-colored Angel Moroni statue, adorning the top of the tallest spire.
Temples have a different purpose from meetinghouses. In the LDS Church today, temples serve two main purposes: (1) temples are locations in which Latter-day Saints holding a temple recommend can perform ordinances on behalf of themselves and their deceased ancestors, and (2) temples are considered to be a house of holiness where members can go to commune with God and receive personal revelation.
- "Visit a Church Near You", ComeUntoChrist.org, Retrieved on 22 March 2020.
- "Church Consolidates Meeting Schedules", Ensign, March 1980, pp. 73–78.
- "Church Announces New Balance between Gospel Instruction in the Home and Church". Newsroom. ChurchofJesusChrist.orgf. 2018-10-06.
- Johnson, Stacey. "10 of the biggest changes Latter-day Saints have seen in the church over the past 2 years", Provo Herald, 18 February 2020. Retrieved on 22 March 2020.
- A Letter about COVID-19’s Effect on Large Gatherings of Saints, Newsroom, 11 March 2020. Retrieved 1 April 2020.
- Update: Gatherings of Church Members Temporarily Suspended Worldwide, Newsroom, 12 March 2020. Retrieved 1 April 2020.
- The equipment is configured so that they can transmit and receive on various frequencies so that the discussion in a single meeting can be translated into multiple languages.
- "Instructions for Curriculum 2018". ChurchofJesusChrist.org. Retrieved 2018-10-15.
- Riess, Jana. "Mormons get back to basics at church's General Conference", Religion News Service, 8 April 2019. Retrieved on 22 March 2020.
- "Church Announces New Balance between Gospel Instruction in the Home and Church". newsroom.churchofjesuschrist.org. 2018-10-06. Retrieved 2020-03-23.
- Stack, Peggy Fletcher. "About the new Mormon Sunday meeting schedule", The Salt Lake Tribune, 6 October 2018. Retrieved on 22 March 2020.
- Walch, Tad. "LDS leaders announce new teaching manual, teacher council meetings", Deseret News, 3 May 2016. Retrieved on 15 October 2018.
- "A New Balance between Gospel Instruction in the Home and in the Church" (PDF). October 6, 2018. Retrieved October 15, 2018.
- "Testimony". www.churchofjesuschrist.org. Retrieved 2020-03-23.
- "Of Chapels and Temples: Explaining Mormon Worship Services". Newsroom. LDS Church. 15 November 2007. Retrieved 27 January 2010.
- Benson, Ezra Taft (August 1985). "What I Hope You Will Teach Your Children about the Temple". Ensign. LDS Church.
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